The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on Saturday distributed improved variety of cassava stems to farmers in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue state.
The seeds developed by the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP-Nigeria), are enriched with Vitamin `A’ to enhance nutrition.
The minister said government embarked on the distribution to ensure availability of food and good feeding.
Aside supporting the farmers, he said, government’s effort was directed at preventing food crisis in the country.
The minister said that government had begun land clearing in rural areas to enable farmers to expand their farms and open up more space for youths to participate in agriculture.
He said government had concluded plans to provide planters, harvesters and processing machines to aid farmers’ to process cassava into starch and sweeteners for export.
Ogbeh said government had also concluded plans to build dams in rural areas to support irrigation as the country could no longer depend solely on rain for food production.
“In a few months, we shall begin to build dams in local government areas across the country as agriculture can no longer depend on the rainy season alone.
“We must ensure food production all year round,’’ Ogbeh added.
The Ochi Idoma, Chief Elias Obekpa, said farming was a God-given vocation and the only means of livelihood of the Idoma people.
Represented by Chief Anthony Adejo, a palace chief, Obekpa urged his followers to heed President Muhammadu Buhari’s call to return to the farm.
He said that it was time for the whole nation to wake up from the slumber and turn to agriculture and address the issue of unemployment in the country.
The traditional ruler said crude oil was no longer capable of sustaining the country, and urged Nigerians to embrace agriculture as there was dignity in farming.
Obekpa appealed to the government to ensure prompt supply of farm inputs such as seeds, fertilisers and agro-chemicals.
Earlier in his remarks, the acting National Coordinator of WAAPP-Nigeria, Mr James Apochi, explained that WAAPP was a programme funded by the World Bank.
He said the aim of the programme was to boost agricultural productivity and enhance regional integration in West Africa.
The coordinator said the programme, in collaboration with the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, was executing three projects.
The projects are fingerling multiplication, cassava stem multiplication and village extension programme covering over 12 villages.